See ya at Sigiriya!

Everyone here has definitely heard of the Seven Wonders of the World: the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer Statue, The Colosseum, Petra, and the Chichen Itza Pyramid.

It appears that if one of these places was devoured by a sink hole and mankind would have denied its existence, UNESCO has a reserve. The "8th Wonder", Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress, will replace the obliterated wonder on the list if it comes to it.

So, what's the story?

Sigiriya, a 180-m rock is a rock fortification in Matale District, Sri Lanka. On first glance, it looks like a plain boulder in the middle of a jungle but if you look closely, this rock has millions of stories to tell.

King Kashyapa, a usurper to the throne, built his fortress on this rock to give him the tactical advantage in case the rightful heir comes to knock him out. (Spoiler alert! His fortress wasn't that much of a help in the end. 😆)

Grand Entrance

Once you enter the main gate, don't expect to be on the foot of the rock right away. You would have to take a 20-min walk through the lower palace filled with enormous pools and water gardens.

If you have hundreds of wives and concubines, you 'd definitely need a pool this large.
The walk to the foot of the rock is filled with masterly-laden and millennia-old bricks.

Commence ascent!

Yay, finally I'm on the foot of the Lion Rock!

Be careful not to touch that wall you see on the bottom. That is the Mirror Wall, and according to historical notes, it used to be covered with white gems so in good olden days, people can see their reflection on it. The wall had some centuries-old graffiti left, while some were erased by the Buddhist monks in 1400 who took over when the monarchy abandoned the citadel.

This place reminded me so much of The Eyrie. I'd be so glad if there's a Moon Door up there.

That spiral staircase leads us to the next stop of the tour: the Sigiriya Damsels. It's a cave filled with paintings of naked women back in the day. Taking photos was not allowed inside. There was even a group of teens who were caught trying to to sneak some snaps. They were scolded, along with a lengthy lecture that the king didn't want anyone who haven't been in the cave to see those paintings, to the point he made the painter go blind so he can't remake the art. Crazy.

You know it's a scary way up when there are screens around the stairs.
After the cave, we had to climb some more to reach what I thought was the summit. I heard many voices buzzing about so I figured we were drawing close to the top. Then...

Tadaaa! Halfway to the summit (remember, still on the rock) is a plateau with garden terraces and lion's feet carvings that serve as welcome passage to the upper palace. There used to be a lion's torso to make the whole rock look like a crouching lion -- again, to intimidate the enemies -- but only the claws are left now.

My thighs and knees were already shaking from the long walk and climb but since I was already close, might as well see the whole thing through.

Challenge completed! This girl in a dress finally reached the summit!

More gardens and remains of a "meeting area" can be found on top. The summit afforded the visitors with a 360° view of the district which reminded me of the king's tactical and narcissistic purpose for the whole fortress.
Everything you see... is not mine.
So, a king built his palace on a high rock. What's the wonder about it, right?

Since the whole complex was built about 1,500 years ago which meant before technological advancements in engineering were available, the construction of the whole Sigiriya fortress, the installation of stairs, and the intricate designs of the gardens and caves were considered as a marvel.

More importantly, the irrigation system established to water the terrace gardens and bring water to the top of the summit is still working to this day. Imagine what kind of system that must be to last a millennia and work on a 180-m high rock.
The tank may be a modern addition but Sigiriya's irrigation foundation built over a thousand years ago makes sure that its inhabitants never go thirsty.
The climb isn't that difficult now because of the alternate stairs assembled by the management. I even saw some kids and old people climb it on barefoot. For sure, you can survive the climb, too.

P.S.: I checked. No Moon Door. #missedopportunity

💗 I'd love to hear your thoughts on this trip! 💗


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